Tablets Will Drive Smartphone, PC Convergence

Tablet PCs are driving a new form of convergence in the consumer devices market, according to a new report from marketing research firm iSuppli.

iSuppli says Apple Inc.s iPad, along with other tablet PCs, holds giant implications for the world of technology. Thats because it will spur the development of new technologies that will combine laptops, tablet PCs and smartphones into one device. As a consequence, a new definition of convergence will arise, said William Kidd, iSupplis director and principal analyst of financial services.

The latest interpretation of convergence describes voice, video and data services being delivered to the home vis-à-vis broadband networks and the new services that would result from this confluence,” Kidd said in a prepared statement. But, he added, while that trend remains, consumer electronics devices and industries are now coming together at a fast pace, with the tablet form factor serving a tangible representation of that convergence, since it is part smartphone and part notebook.”

Mobile operating systems, though, may play a bigger part in the new definition of convergence than the actual tablet computer.

Companies in the electronics value chain increasingly must face the reality that the rise of the mobile OS means distinct product categories now are blurring together, Kidd said. For example, consider that Apples iPad, iPhone, iPod and set-top box product all contain similar external function and internal electronics, he said.

Industries likely to face the impact of convergence through the proliferation of mobile [operating systems] include televisions, cell phones and notebook PCs.

Meantime, iSuppli predicts tablets will remain content-consumption devices. That may change by 2012, however, the tablet market is driven by new content-creation capabilities, which right now are only found in notebooks and netbooks. For that to happen, though, companies such as Apple, Microsoft and others must evolve their mobile operating systems even more. For Apple, that may mean combining its mobile operating system, iOS, with its desktop platform, MacOS.

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